The Versatility of Australian Native Ingredients

Friday, March 05, 2021ruthdsouzap

Recently I was invited to be part of a workshop on Australian Native Ingredients by Tourism Australia. A box curated by Foodie Trails was sent to us all the way from Oz and it was a delight exploring each of the spices. The workshop revolved around the ingredients and their use, with the highlight being a cooking demo by Masterchef winner Sashi Cheliah. 

Naturally, the curious cook in me was motivated to try my hand at the dish. Two things caught my attention - the first was Sashi Cheliah saying that he used the ingredients in his everyday cooking and found them easy to use in Indian cooking thanks to their flavour profiles. The second was when I replicated Himanshi of Foodie Trails' Meat curry with pepperberry. The use of Mountain pepperberry brought in the punch of black peppercorns we use in India, but in a decidedly milder, manner - Indian at heart, Australian Native in profile.  

The ingredients in the box

And so I decided to try and use the ingredients in an everyday Indian meal and picked up a few family favourites and wove the ingredients in. 

So beginning at the top and going clockwise you see the 
Old Man Salt Bush Chapatis; The Quadong Peach tea; Sandalwood nut shrikhand with a dusting of Davidson Plum Powder; Buff stir fry with Mountain Pepperberry and Wattleseed; Lemon Myrtle thick Moong Dal. 

Let me break these down a bit. I made the chapati dough as I normally would. I usually through in spoon of flaxseed powder but here decided to go with the Old Man Salt Bush - which is a dry coarse powder of similar consistency. It does have a slightly salty taste but not enough to salt the dough. I needed to add more salt. 

This is traditional Kerala style Buff dish - fried a bunch of sliced shallots with a general amount of pounded Mountain Pepperberry and cooked the meat in a pressure cooker. When done, sprinkled on some wattleseed and put on the open flame to dry up the little moisture there was. Once ready I sprinkled a handful of grated fresh coconut and mixed it all up well. 

This is a favourite Moong dal recipe. Cook a cup of moong dal in the pressure cooker till it is soft and mushy. Fry up nicely, thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, some ginger garlic paste and 2-3 slit green chillies. This has to be fried to till oil leaves the mixture on the sides. Add in the moong dal and stir well. I normally squeeze some lime directly onto my dal before I eat it. A generous sprinkling of lemon myrtle stirred into the dal does just the trick. 

I love a good Shrikhand. I roasted the sandalwood nut a bit to get the flavours out and then pounded it with a mortar pestle. Shrikhand I made the usual way - drain all the water out of a cup of curd. Used a strainer for this and waited for a couple of hours. Into this thick curd, I mixed 1/4 cup powdered sugar and the pounded sandalnut wood. Put it in a bowl and decorated with some colorful Davidson plum powder. It made for a fab dessert with a mild nutty after taste. 

The Suleimani chai - a black tea with lemon is a great digestive and one that is often made in our home. Something Sashi said about being able to steep the Quadong peach with a black tea triggered this recipe. Steeped some black tea in a kettle with a spoonful of this powder. It brought out some nice flavours. I did not add in any sugar, though you could consider doing so. 

I have been getting queries on where one can buy these ingredients. They are difficult to source right now, but the folks at Foodie Trails can perhaps work out something if they have enough of folks interested, so do share you contact details with me on DM and you just may hear from them when they start. 


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